The Rise of China Editor's Notes

China is a land of inherent contradiction.

China is the birthplace of civilizational altering philosophies, religions, and politics such as Confucianism, Maoism, and Chinese Buddhism (which still incorporates most of East and South-East Asia). Yet, in the modern era, they are more prominently renowned for their state capitalist ideology that entails producing low-end consumer goods and creating massive amounts of pollution.

In 1817 Napoleon warned the world that "When China rises, the world will tremble." Not 20 years afterward Foreign Secretary (and future Prime Minister) Lord Palmerston regarded the Chinese as "uncivilized" and suggested that the British Empire attack them. This policy was enacted to demonstrate England's imperial superiority and to demonstrate what a "civilized" nation could inflict upon a rising competitor (this led to the First Opium War).
Chairman Mao Zedong (Mao Tsetung), the Communist Party leader of China from its inception as a modern nation in 1949, until his death in 1976, helped raise millions out of dire poverty, provided basic education to Chinese citizens, and created health care system where none previously existed. He reasserted China's prestige on the world stage after more than a century of humiliation at the hands of the British and the Japanese. Simultaneously though, Mao's rule included some of the most horrific, violent, and brutal events in human history. This includes the 'The Great Leap Forward' in which Mao tried to rapidly restructure the Chinese economy from an agrarian to an industrial society resulting in wide-spread famine. This policy directly, and indirectly, accounts for the deaths of between 23-53 million people with an additional 2.5 million deaths relating to imprisonment and torture for various 'crimes against the state' (add another million plus that committed suicide along the way).
In 2001 Gordon Chang wrote the book 'The Coming Collapse of China' and not 8 years later Martin Jaques wrote the book 'When China Rules The World: The Rise Of The Middle Kingdom And The End Of The Western World'. Then in 2018 we came full circle with Red Flags: Why Xi's China Is in Jeopardy by George Magnus. It seems as if every other book about China is either predicting it's rise or it's fall, even academic experts do not agree on what the outcome will be.

China still declares that it is a communist country wherein its national anthem (the 'March of the Volunteers'), its constitution, and its liberal use of the hammer and sickle make it abundantly clear that they are not joking about their core philosophy. Yet Xi Jinping has spent the entirety of his presidency giving speeches that call for the world to fight against protectionism economic policy and adopt free trade globalization.

In security and defence matters, the Chinese government claims that it is not militaristic and seeks peaceful solutions to its problems. Simultaneously they are spending time and resources in creating artificial islands in the South China Sea and arming them. They additionally, and quite worryingly, have the 'People's Liberation Army" hold practice drills and planning sessions for an invasion to retake Taiwan (which is still officially considered to be a rogue province).
China invests heavily in countries all over Africa and the Middle-East by providing investment and labour for infrastructure projects. Many critics have portrayed these projects as a form of 'debt-trap politics' in which the Chinese government intentionally 'aids' third world nations they know will default on their loans and thus be trapped in a spiral of debt and servitude to the Chinese government.
In the interest of full disclosure, I lived in China for a decade (arriving during the Summer Olympics in Beijing 2008 and staying there until 2018). After 10 years of living in China, even I don't pretend to understand, or be able to explain, the enormously complex and contradictory civilization-state that is the 'Middle Kingdom'.
I hope by reading the articles contained within this issue you will begin to form an understanding of just how complex China is. They are surely one of the most influential countries in the emerging geopolitical framework and will no doubt increasingly assert their 'rise' in the coming years.
Matthew Zink (Co-Founder, PoliQuads Magazine)

© 2018 by Zink Publishing Inc.

  • Patreon
  • Facebook Social Icon
  • Twitter Social Icon
  • YouTube Social  Icon
  • Reddit